The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami has called on Nigerians to transform their businesses by embracing new technologies and leveraging on opportunities offered by African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Pantami made the call at the 3rd edition annual Stakeholders Local Content Roundtable Technology Fair on Friday in Abuja.
The programme, sponsored by FinTrak Software is tagged: “Patronage of Nigerian Software in the Context of AFCFTA and the Local Content Policy.
The Minister, who was represented by Mr Tope Fashademi, a Director in the ministry, also urged Nigerians to embrace and implement the provisions of the Nigeria Local Content Policy of the Federal Government in all MDAs and Private sectors of the economy.
Pantami reiterated that the Ministry instituted the Local Content in ICT Policy by developing and launching the guidelines for Nigeria Content Development (ICD) in ICT on December 2013.
He explained that Office for Nigeria Content Development in ICT (ONC) was strategically created to drive the Policy under the supervision of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
He also said that it was to ensure nationwide adherence to the specific focus on the four areas of ICT namely: Services, Software, Human Capital Development and Hardware.
Pantami informed his audience that the recent change in the Ministry’s name by Mr President was an upshot of the fact that ICT remained one of the key pillars of “our economy in terms of contribution to the nation’s GDP.”
He said that the Digital Economy policy had the potential to increase revenue and block leakages, creation of new jobs and employment opportunities.
According to him,it will also pave way for e-Government to engender efficient and effective service delivery, and general empowerment of the people.
“This will inevitably result in the scaling up of companies, which will result in more job opportunities and inevitably contribute to increasing the ICT sector contribution to the national GDP.
“The digital economy is expected to continue growing with development of new ideas, products and services as well as new markets and job opportunities.
“Experts even anticipate that the digital economy will become the most significant business platform and mainstay of some countries in the next few years.
“Government at all levels must continue to emphasise the creation of an ecosystem where all the stakeholders, citizens, businesses, foreigners, investors can will be able to design, create and deliver new services and opportunities.
“This will drive economic growth, and fundamentally transform the well-being of our nation,” Pantami said.
Earlier, the convener of the event, Bimbo Abioye, Group Managing Director of FinTrak Software said the focus of the meeting was to expose solutions that have been tested in both private and public sector of the economy.
“Let us ensure that we begin to patronise solutions developed in Nigeria to strengthen our capacity, stem the tide of foreign exchange outflows and provide employment for our teaming youth.
“We are left without options as practices that have kept us in poverty must be spiritedly discontinued, “he said.
The Lead Facilitator, Mr Inye Kemanbonta, a consultant with NITDA, highlighted the role of government which include promoting indigenous ICT companies and building capacity of public servants, policy makers and entrepreneurs in local content issues.
He advocated l the removal of grey areas and public misconceptions about the local content policy of Government while urging government to spend public funds to purchase domestic products for its own use and to develop an indigenous industry.
Adenike Abudu, President, Certified Computer Manufacturers of Nigeria (CCMON), in her goodwill message, appealed to government to strengthen its polical will to fully implement her local content policy.
“We use this opportunity to remind government that the success of its policies is highly dependent on its action and inaction.
“The volume of business in aggregated computer purchases will enable Nigerians to invest more locally, improve quality and hold stuck,” she said.
Mr Emmanuel Bassey, the Executive Secretary, Africa ICT Foundation, pledged support to the government in training and empowering 200, 000 Nigerian youths annually across the six geo-political zones on software development and other Digital skills.
Participants were unanimous in their opinion that the policy would engender National Security, job Creation and Foreign Exchange savings for the country.
The Roundtable ended with a communiqué which touched on various areas that were discussed at the event. (NAN)